HOLLAND, MICH. -- Junior Langston Johnson (Elkhart, Ind./Elkhart Central) scored a game-high 21 points as the Trine University men's basketball team beat Hope (Mich.) College, 80-75, to claim its third victory in its last four games to open Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association play in Holland, Mich.
Johnson shot eight-of-13 from the floor (61.5 percent) and made five-of-nine (55.6 percent) from three-point range. He also added five rebounds. Two other Thunder players scored in double figures in junior Myles Copeland (Perrysburg, Ohio/Toledo St. John's) with 19 points and sophomore Maurice Hunter (Monroe, Mich./Monroe) with 15 points. In addition to his 19 points, Copeland also pulled down a game-tying high eight boards.
Freshman Jalen Paul (Fort Wayne, Ind./Churubusco) had another solid night setting up the Trine offense with seven of the team's 13 total assists in the game.
Trine shot well as a team at 55.7 percent (34-of-61) overall for the game, including 63.6 percent (21-of-33) in the first half alone. Hope (6-6, 0-1 MIAA) led for nearly the first 10 minutes of the first period, including boasting a six-point margin on multiple occasions with the last one coming at the 13:39 mark by a score of 18-12.
The Thunder shooting then caught fire as Trine outscored Hope, 20-4, over the course of the next 7:12 to take a 10-point advantage, 32-22, following a jumper by Hunter with 6:27 left before halftime. Hope pulled to within six points, 34-28, but Trine stayed steady offensively the rest of the frame and maintained a nine-point lead, 47-38, after the first 20 minutes.
The second half began with Hope going on a 13-4 run to even the game at 51-51 at the 15:30 mark. The Dutchmen couldn't take the lead, however, as back-to-back layups by junior Pete Smith (Bristol, Ind./Northridge) and Copeland made it a four-point game for Trine, 55-51, with 14:42 to go. Hope later evened the game again, this time at 62-62 before the Thunder looked to take control with an ensuing 10-2 run that was capped by a triple by Johnson to make the score 72-64 at the 6:34 mark.
Hope looked to make a pair of final runs late in the contest that included a 76-73 margin with 23 seconds remaining. But Trine put the game away with four straight points by Copeland as the Thunder went on to the 80-75 final.
Trine will stay on the road for its next matchup which will be against MIAA opponent Olivet (Mich.) College on Saturday, Jan. 6. Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. in Olivet, Mich.